According to a United Nations funded study conducted by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, one third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste, amounting to more than one billion tons of waste around the world every year.
The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK) is an industrial research institute owned by SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. The purpose of the Institute is to strengthen competitiveness in the food industry.
The SIK study was tailored for the food packaging industry, and will be reviewed by the industry at an international trade fair to be held in Germany later this month.
The SIK report, “Global Food Losses and Food Waste”, highlights the losses occurring along the entire food chain, and makes assessments of their magnitude.
The report claims “food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption. In medium-and high-income countries food is to a significant extent wasted at the consumption stage, meaning that it is discarded even if it is still suitable for human consumption.
“Significant losses also occur early in the food supply chains in the industrialized regions. In low-income countries food is lost mostly during the early and middle stages of the food supply chain; much less food is wasted at the consumer level”.
The study differentiates between food loss and food waste. Food loss take place at production, postharvest and processing stages in the food supply chain. Food waste occurs at the end of the food chain (retail and final consumption) which relates to retailers’ and consumers’ behavior.
The report notes that “food losses in industrialized countries are as high as in developing countries, but in developing countries more than 40% of the food losses occur at post harvest and processing levels, while in industrialized countries, more than 40% of the food losses occur at retail and consumer levels.
“Food waste at consumer level in industrialized countries (222 million ton) is almost as high as the total net food production in sub-Saharan Africa (230 million ton)”.
The SIK report is of particular interest considering that global food prices are at their highest point in 20 years. According to the United Nations, the global price of food reached a new all-time high in February. And the World Bank reports the global price of food has risen 36% over the past 12 months.